Climate change has reached fever pitch again with more doom and gloom being shouted at us each day. Two articles appeared in papers I read this morning [a day or two ago]. “The Australian” proclaimed “Climate lowdown warns of no escape from rising heat” and “The Advertiser”, (always handy to have in case there is a need to wrap up any old dead fish), had a full page expose titled “Feel the heat” in large letters.
Both articles have their origin in the latest scaremongering by the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO. This is the fifth “State of the climate” report and it tells us that we are going to fry/get more storms/get acid seawater/be inundated by rising sea levels and many other effects from the dreaded carbon dioxide.
I was interested in the doomsday graph that showed temperature changes compared to the “1861-1900 mean”. Apart from the fact that average temperatures mean absolutely nothing, (read the paper by Christopher Essex), and have been demonstrated to be constructed from very sparse data, (see work by John McLean), I thought I would see how long temperature records have been kept, particularly in the period used as the baseline for all the drama.
The table below shows a sample of locations around the country and the date that data collection began. It is not exhaustive but interesting nonetheless.
[Editor, I can’t line up the columns. The order of columns is:]
Years to 1900
1861 to 1900
% of time
Location Records start Years to 1900 1861 to 1900 % of time
Melbourne 1855 45 40 113%
Sydney 1860 40 40 100%
Hobart 1880 20 40 50%
Adelaide 1888 12 40 30%
Brisbane 1890 10 40 25%
Cairns 1890 10 40 25%
Total 132 240 55%
Alice Springs 1940
Coober Pedy 1965
5 capital cities and Cairns all have some data in the period 1861 to 1900 but it is not continuous except for Melbourne and Sydney. The rest have percentages ranging from 50 to 25 of the period.
When the “data years” are compared with the “actual years” the percentage of time with data is about 55%, but mostly concentrated in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Hobart with a smattering from Brisbane and cairns.
It is also interesting to note that places like Darwin, Alice Springs, Perth and some regional places have no records until 1940 and later.
Anyone who has travelled a bit knows that the climate in Darwin is very different to that in Hobart so to believe that there can be an “Australian climate” requires a bit of gullibility and anyone proclaiming that it is so is kidding us.
The same goes for temperatures. There is a wide range of maximum and minimum temperatures across the country and to pretend that an “average” can be taken that is representative of the whole country is verging on the fraudulent.
Another example of hyping the data occurred the other day when “The Advertiser” proclaimed “Tex cools off as Adelaide prepares to boil”, showing some footballers swimming and bemoaning the forecast of 35C for Christmas day. According to the article the hottest Christmas day was in 2016 with a temperature of 41.3C and it also noted that there were only 3 occasions in 40 years of Kent Town records where the Christmas day temperature has been 35 or higher. Some investigation of the BoM records showed that the 2016 temperature was in fact 38.9C not 41.3C and that the hottest Christmas day was in 1888 at 42.1C. Also, the 90 years of records from the West Terrace observatory contained 16 instances when Christmas day was 35C or above. (Adelaide’s first weather observatory was on West Terrace and operated for 90 years between 1888 and 1978. The BoM then moved to Kent Town and stayed for 40 years. The observatory moved back to West terrace at the start of 2018).
It seems that the one time venerable and respected institutions of BoM and CSIRO have become fully paid up members of the climate change club, and it is a pity no one in authority is game enough to make them do what taxpayers pay them for.